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10 Tips For Your Digital Front Door

Image of a slightly open door. Text: 10 Tips for Your Digital Front Door

Career Centers can learn a lot from disruptions and innovations in other industries. One of the most significant healthcare revolutions underway before the pandemic, which has accelerated rapidly, is the concept of a "digital front door." 

According to Phreesia, a healthcare technology firm, "digital front door" refers to the collection of technologies that healthcare providers use to manage and improve the patient experience….It represents a radical shift in healthcare administration from a provider-centric, paper-based approach to a more digital, patient-centric framework."

Does this sound familiar? Many Career Centers made large investments in digital assets and experiences during the pandemic. Still, more must be done to fully leverage a stakeholder-centric approach to your online services and resources. Don't make the mistake of saying, ‘We have a career center website, so we are all good.” HOW you approach your digital front door is paramount to your success in student engagement. 

Below are ten pro tips for assessing and maximizing your digital front door. 

1. Identify Your Users  Understanding the needs of your distinct stakeholders is the first step in creating a user-friendly digital front door. Students, staff, faculty, employers, and other partners have different needs and ways they prefer to engage with your services and resources. Conduct surveys and focus groups, or create personas and customer journey maps to identify the needs of each user type.  2. Audit Your Existing Content  Take a comprehensive look at your current content. Is it up-to-date, relevant, and reflective of your services? Generate a list of specific reasons someone would go to your website and imagine that you are interacting with your site for the first time. Is the navigation intuitive? Ensure all information is accurate and outdated content is revised or removed. This step is crucial for maintaining trust and credibility.  3. Label Your Entry Points   Clearly label entry points for every type of user on your landing page and maintain consistent navigation. Ideally, your users can self-select into useful areas of the site with one click. Consider using an expandable menu that packs a website's entire navigation into a single interface.  4. Create Compelling Calls to Action  To transform your website from a static brochure advertising your services and resources into a dynamic hub of engagement and activity, you'll want to plan out and effectively place calls to action (CTAs) relevant to all of your users. These include targeted resource downloads, form submissions, appointment scheduling, event registration, newsletter sign-ups, or a prompt to watch a video.  5. Watch Out for Overgrowth  Websites can quickly become overloaded with content, making it difficult for users to find what they need. Regularly review your site structure and content. Trim or consolidate pages that don't serve a clear purpose.  6. Monitor Your Metrics  Use web analytics tools to track how visitors interact with your site. Look for patterns in behavior that can indicate where users are engaging most and where they may be dropping off. This data is invaluable for ongoing website optimization.  7. Avoid the Wall of Links  A common mistake is overwhelming visitors with too many links or options upfront. Instead, guide visitors through your site with a clear, intuitive navigation structure. Use groupings and hierarchy to make information easy to find.  8. Know When to Expand and Condense  Some content deserves its own page, while other information should be consolidated. Make these decisions based on user needs and behaviors, ensuring that your site structure facilitates easy access to the most sought-after information.  9. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile  With the increasing prevalence of smartphone usage, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is non-negotiable. Test your site on various devices to guarantee the mobile experience is as seamless and intuitive as the desktop version.  10. Make it Accessibile Digital accessibility is a legal requirement, and it guarantees that students, parents, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds and situations can access and interact with educational materials, no matter their abilities.

Want some inspiration? Here are a couple of great sites that offer immediacy for various stakeholders:

  • The Rutgers Career Exploration & Success page clearly illustrates options for Students & Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Employers & Mentors, and Donors.

  • The University of Maryland's “Who We Help” link on its main navigation provides clarity about how each of its stakeholders (Students, Employers, Alumni, Faculty and Staff, Parents, and Families) can engage with the University Career Center and The President’s Promise.

At the Collective, we help campuses scale career education. Want more insights about AI, Tech, or Data? Check out our upcoming series of Summer 2024 Think Tanks!

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Margie McGee-Newton, Creative and Content Manager, Consultant

The Career Leadership Collective

Margie McGee-Newton has twenty years of experience in higher education. She has worked with a wide variety of institutions, including the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota, Wellesley College, and DePaul University. She is passionate about bringing sensitivity and appreciation for a user experience lens to higher education and leveraging accessible and engaging learning experiences to connect learners to meaningful and actionable content.


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